CD review: Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

big boiRemember when we thought that Andre 3000 was the outre member of OutKast? Recently, however, he’s been spending his shrinking musical output on 16-bar guest spots for the likes of A-list rappers like Rick Ross and Young Jeezy.

Meanwhile, Big Boi, previously considered to be the traditional boom-bap member of the duo, seemingly has been getting in touch with his alt-side, apparently spending all his free time studying Pitchfork for obscure indie artists.

The result of this newfound musical freedom is Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, Big Boi’s sprawling, messy, sonically diverse, rambling and thrilling new CD – a 66-minute mind through the mind of Daddy Fat Sacks, who, by virtue of this musical odyssey, is a much more complex artist than we ever thought.

“If ya’ll don’t know me by know, y’all ain’t never gonna know me,” he says on the album-opening “Ascending,” and yes, perhaps we don’t know as much as we thought about Big Boi.

While half of the album sounds like an extension of the underrated “Sir Lucious Leftfoot,” the other half is what the soundtrack of “Drive” might be if it were set in the ATL. I’m not sure that it all works as a cohesive album, but if you approach each song separately, it’s a spectacular collection of work from an artist unafraid to cross musical borders or push the limits on those with which he’s familiar.

I’ve never heard of Phantogram, Little Dragon, Wavves or any of the other indie artists that Big Boi is working with here, but the collaborations are pitch perfect, blending rapid-fire verses with lush, electro-sounding rock backgrounds.

Who else today could tackle the thumping “In The A,” a hardcore slice of braggadocio with T.I. and Ludacris, and then shift to “CPU,” a synthy, dreamy collabo with Phantogram that is a complete 180 from what you’ve just heard? Big Boi moves effortlessly across genres here, a testament to his talent and appreciation of the musicians he’s working with.

OutKast of course, has traversed non-traditional rap avenues during its career – one of the all-time great Kast songs is “Liberation,” a tender, nine-minute jam  buoyed by Erykah Badu’s sweet choruses – and Big Boi continues the tradition here with “Descending,” a funky, pensive ode to his family that brings to mind the sonically similar “Toilet Tisha” from Stankonia.

Big Boi has said in interviews that he’s nine-to-10 songs deep into his next album, and if it’s anywhere as visionary and challenging as this release, I eagerly look forward to it.

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~ by Elliott on December 13, 2012.

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